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Artists display their creativity at Downtown Sarasota Spring Craft Fair

Local vendors were present at the fair, which also brought artists from afar.

The third annual Downtown Sarasota Spring Craft Fair was held May 6-7 at Central Avenue and First Street.
The third annual Downtown Sarasota Spring Craft Fair was held May 6-7 at Central Avenue and First Street.
Photo by Ian Swaby
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Jeanna Mumford was excited by what she saw as she browsed the rows of stands at the Third Annual Downtown Sarasota Spring Craft Fair on May 6.

“It was really cool; there were lots of very unique items,” she said. 

Items on offer at the festival, which was held at Central Avenue and First Street May 6-7, and presented by Howard Alan Events, included wood carvings, paintings, glassware, toys and food items.

Some vendors present were from the area, sometimes bringing a touch of Sarasota to their work.


Loretta Sax 

Loretta Sax traveled the globe for leisure, visiting places like Peru, Egypt, Dubai, China, and India, but everywhere she went, there was one feature she tended to notice.

“I’m drawn to the water and boats,” she said. “Even when I'm traveling, my eye goes to the water.”

Loretta Sax
Photo by Ian Swaby

One painting in her stand depicted a boat filled with fruits and vegetables from a farmer’s market on the water in Curaçao, while another portrayed working boats near Mazatlán, Mexico.

Sax began painting when she was 18, but it was two years ago that she returned to it professionally, after a career which took her everywhere from establishing art galleries, including one in The Venetian hotel in Las Vegas, to working for a licensee of the Vatican Library.

She finds much of her inspiration locally and said the surf depicted in some paintings was based on scenes at Siesta Key and Turtle Beach.

Sax will walk the beaches, taking photos of what she finds – perhaps a dirty wave – and returns home with inspiration.

“I transform it – make it my own,” she said.

Yet she also brings her own touch to the process itself, applying glazes to the canvas to create transparent layers of color. As a result, a small change in light can subtly alter the paint colors, for instance, seeming to shine through a crest of water.

She said the technique comes from Maxfield Parrish, an American illustrator who was popular in the first half of the 20th century, but she said her own special glazing technique is involved – a secret she can't reveal.

Maya Wultzer

Once Maya Wultzer started making quilts, the word spread among friends, and demand in the community grew.

As a result, she decided to start Quilts by Maya.

“They’re unique and one of a kind. I can’t duplicate them,” she said.

Maya Wutzer
Photo by Ian Swaby

The quilts are made from composites of fabrics, including special order items, which she acquires from different sources around the country.

“Whenever I travel, I Google ‘quilt shop near me,'” she said.

Wultzer said while planning the designs is the most fun part of quilting, the work comes in as she machine and hand-sews the quilts, which are 100% cotton and 46 by 66 inches in length.

Although she will be attending a Christmas show in Tennessee this year, she rarely ventures out of Florida; she is also a massage therapist and teacher.

“It's a creative outlet for me,” she said of her craft pursuits.

Craig Sheffield

While most people don’t look forward to summer storms, Craig Sheffield is often seeking them out.

After reaching a storm, he’ll set up his camera tripod, using distant light sources to set the focus, and perform long exposures to capture the distant lightning bolts.

Craig Sheffield
Photo by Ian Swaby

Storm chasing is just one of the ways he likes to share the beauty of the world through photographs. 

It was sightings of whale sharks, while fishing in his boat off the coast of Sarasota, that sparked his interest in taking his hobby professional and starting Craig's Clicks LLC, after he recorded the sharks with a GoPro from within the water.

“I’m able to show people stuff that they may have never even seen, or from a perspective they’ve never seen,” he said.

Some images he’s been able to share include a row of roseate spoonbills spaced perfectly evenly apart, alligators, and a lightning strike that came within about 100 feet of two boats in Sarasota Bay. 

He said his method ensures that the photos contain all the detail they need before he raises the vibrance of their colors. 

“When I don't have a good lighting situation, I don't try to make something out of that,” he said. “I really strive to get those moments of good light.”

Julie Woik

Julie Woik never expected to become an author, but a conversation with a friend who worked at a publishing house set her on a course toward writing books she believes are needed by children today.

After the first book of "The Life and Times of Lilly the Lash" debuted in 2007, the “overwhelming” response, she said, required her to focus her life on the books that she said teach children about good character, making the world a better place and the importance of being good community and family members.

Julie Woik opens "The Life and Times of Lilly the Lash: Ocean Commotion" to a page featuring the Ca' d'Zan.
Photo by Ian Swaby

The idea started when Woik, who worked in psychiatry for 12 years and business for 15 years, woke up in the middle of the night, wet her cheek, and found an eyelash on her hand. She thought of a poem about "Lilly the Lash" that she wanted to give to a friend she was worried about.

Each volume in the series illustrated by Marc Tobin involves an eyelash-winged fairy, Lilly the Lash, traveling to a different location such as a garden, a toy store in New York City, and even Sarasota, but each one also contains a different lesson in character building such as self-image, honesty or responsibility. 

Woik believes the lessons are timeless and good reminders for adults as well.

“I don't have to like your path that you're on, but I can try to understand it," she said. "I can try to see your point of view and not be angry about it.” She believes the importance of character is not being recognized enough in today's world, and said the books are “all about getting it back into the forefront of everybody’s mind.”



Ian Swaby

Ian Swaby is the Sarasota neighbors writer for the Observer. Ian is a Florida State University graduate of Editing, Writing, and Media and previously worked in the publishing industry in the Cayman Islands.

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